The Lion King is a video game based on Disney's popular animated film. The title was published by Virgin Interactive in 1994, and was released on SNES, NES, Game Boy, PC, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Amiga, Master System and Game Gear. The NES and Master System versions of the game were never released in North America because this is the final game for the former system released in Europe. A PlayStation launch title was going to be released in Japan but was cancelled for unknown reasons. The game follows Simba's journey from a young carefree cub to the battle with his evil uncle Scar as an adult.
The game is a side-scrolling platform game, with the controlled character having to leap, climb, run and descend from platform to platform. There is an exception during the level The Stampede, where Simba is running towards (or in the Game Boy version, running with the camera looking straight down on top of him, while the Game Gear version is a side scrolling platformer like the other stages) the camera dodging wildebeest and leaping over rocks.
In most versions of the game two bars appear on the HUD. To the left is the roar meter, which must be fully charged for Simba's roar to be effective. To the right is the health bar which decreases when Simba is hurt. At the bottom left of the screen is a counter showing how many lives Simba has remaining. Bugs of various shapes and sizes can be collected, restoring health or granting bonuses. Some rare health-damaging bugs also exist.
The player controls Simba (first as a cub, then later as an adult) in the main levels and either Timon or Pumbaa in the bonus levels.
During the course of the game there are two bonus stages. In the first bonus stage, players control Pumbaa, eating bugs dropped by Timon without letting any good ones touch the floor. In the second bonus stage, players control Timon, searching the area for bugs within a time limit. Both will end prematurely if they come into contact with a bad bug (a spider).
The sprites and backgrounds were drawn by Disney animators themselves at Walt Disney Feature Animation, and the music was adapted from songs and orchestrations in the soundtrack.
The Sega Genesis version of the game does not have background vocals unlike the Super Nintendo version, but the Super Nintendo version has less background particles than the Genesis version. This is evident in the Elephant Graveyard and Stampede levels, as well as on the title screen.
The Lion King received mostly positive reviews, including an 8/10 from Electronic Gaming Monthly, and sold well, including 1.27 million units of the SNES version in the United States. Gameplayers awarded the game Sega Genesis Game of the Year over Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic and Knuckles and wrote on their November 1994 issue that "even on the easy setting, the game is hard for an experienced player".